Diversity values reaffirmed at forum

Diversity leaders reaffirmed the University of Washington Bothell’s commitment to build an inclusive and supportive community at a Thursday afternoon forum: How do we define hate speech versus free speech within an academic community?

Photo: from left, Terryl Ross, Kari Lerum, Dan Bustillos (Marc Studer photo)

In another development, an online bias response form has been created on the campus diversity website to facilitate reporting and following up on any incidents. The reporting form is now live.

Faculty members made up a large percentage of the audience of more than 100 people who gathered at the North Creek Events Center. The forum was led by Diversity Director Terryl Ross and Kari Lerum, chair of the campus diversity council and associate professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences.

“There’s been a whole lot of energy on campus since the election,” said Ross. But even before then there were discussions around issues of hate speech and free speech, he said.

Lerum drew attention to the UW Bothell diversity statement, which was handed out to everyone.
“Diversity is a core value and priority of University of Washington Bothell,” she read in part. The power of diversity must be leveraged to “create conditions of equity, justice and academic excellence.”

Before the forum separated into small group discussions, Dan Bustillos, assistant professor in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, pointed out sections of the faculty code and student code of conduct that require respect and prohibit harassment.

On Tuesday, Chancellor Wolf Yeigh said he recently heard reports about an incident in which several Muslim women students were approached by several men who demanded they remove their hijabs. Wolf said this type of abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated at UW Bothell. The University will work to live up to its commitment to being an open, inclusive, welcoming and safe campus, Yeigh said.

In connection with the disturbing event, campus Safety Director Cham Kao reminded the community that safety escorts are available and officers respond to all incidents of concern (425-352-5359).

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